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Trucking Community Mourns Its Own

TORONTO, Ont. - Ontario's trucking community won't soon forget Tony and Jane Schertzing, and Mike Anderson, owners and manager of the Fort Erie Truck and Travel Plaza.The trio died in a plane crash Au...

TORONTO, Ont. – Ontario’s trucking community won’t soon forget Tony and Jane Schertzing, and Mike Anderson, owners and manager of the Fort Erie Truck and Travel Plaza.

The trio died in a plane crash Aug. 14 at the municipal airstrip in Iroquois, near Brockville, Ont.

The Piper Cherokee, piloted by Tony Schertzing, crashed into a stand of trees as it was lifting off, killing Tony (52), Jane (47) and Mike (55), and causing serious injuries to the Schertzings’ daughter Tara (24).

The tragedy touched members of the trucking community far and wide, but no one more so than those who were in closest contact with the Schertzings and Anderson in the days preceding the accident, such as Alfred Beam, a partner in the Fort Erie Truck and Travel Plaza.

Sorely missed

“They are sorely missed,” said Beam in the days following the accident.

Beam said if he could speak to the Schertzings and to Anderson he’d tell them: “You did a great job and we’re taking care of everything the way you’d want it.”

Of Jane Schertzing, Beam said:

“She was a beautiful person. She was always smiling, always positive about everything.”

Bob Lodge, who owns the 730 Truck Stop in Cardinal, Ont. was one of the last people to see the Schertzings and Anderson.

They’d flown in that fateful Thursday to attend the Truck Drivers’ Appreciation Day being held at the truck stop.

They were flying out in the six-seat Piper Cherokee at about 3 p.m., on their way to Montreal for a brief visit, when the accident happened.

Lodge said he rushed to the scene as soon as he heard news of the crash.

“It was my driver I had drop them off who saw it and called me,” he said.

“It was horrible. I saw the plane hit the trees and I knew it wasn’t good. Then there was a loud crash,” said William Murdock, who witnessed the accident.

News of the accident quickly spread.

After reading about it on reader Bill Sinden a safety/compliance coordinator for Bruce R. Smith Ltd. In Mississauga, Ont. wrote in the following: “I was fortunate enough to have met and spoken to Mike (Anderson), on several occasions. He was a true professional, in every aspect, in the performance of his duties at the Fort Erie Truck Plaza. The deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Schertzing and Mike is a great loss to their families and the Fort Erie community.”

Both the Schertzings and Anderson were loved and respected.

Proof of their standing in their respective communities was nowhere more apparent than at their funerals, held in Port Colborne (for the Schertzings) and Fort Erie (for Anderson).

The funerals for both the Schertzings and for Anderson were well-attended, with over 600 people turning out for each, including Tara, who, despite her injuries, attended her parents’ funeral in the company of hospital attendants.

The Schertzings are also survived by their children Shawn, Dana and Katie, as well as Tony Schertzing’s mother Margaret, and his sisters and brothers Rina, Bill, John, Jerry, Annette, Yvonne and Barbara, and Jane Schertzing’s mother Mary Muileboom and her sisters and brother Frank, Jackie, Nick, Tom, Paul, Tracey and Sandra.

After being married for 27 years, they were planning on attending their son’s wedding in September.

Fort Erie town councillor for two terms, Mike Anderson was described by Fort Erie mayor Wayne Redekop as ” a dedicated family man, a trusted and reliable employee, an outstanding public servant, a good friend, and remarkable, generous individual.”

Among the many who mourn Anderson’s loss are his wife Angie and their children Chris and Lisa.

Investigation dropped

But while the loss of the Schertzings and Anderson continues to be felt, any investigation into the crash has since been laid to rest. Investigators looked into the accident but didn’t feel there was enough evidence to support further inquiry into what caused the accident, explained Peter Rowntree, senior regional investigator for the Transportation Safety Board.

“I didn’t find any mechanical failures,” Rowntree said, explaining the board only launches a full investigation if public safety is at risk. “We believe that what caused the accident was basically a combination of smaller factors – the humidity, the weight of the plane and the length of the landing strip.”

But Rowntree said there was no way the accident could have been predicted.

“It was something that doesn’t happen often, but it does happen,” he said.

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